Offer Financial Counseling to Collect More Copays

The Doctor's Office , July 24, 2008

As an increasing share of healthcare costs has been shifted by employers to their employees, copays and deductibles have gone up substantially. This increase has left providers with a significant amount of outstanding self-pay revenue to collect.

One effective method of capturing outstanding self-pay balances is to designate one of the billing staff members to provide financial counseling to patients. This person would meet with patients who have outstanding bills and establish a payment plan that would fit into their budget.

For example, if an uninsured patient has an office visit but cannot pay the entire charge for the day, the patient might ask to pay a portion before he or she leaves the office and then pay additional installments by mail for the remainder of the bill.

Practices such as surgery or OB/GYN, in which self-pay balances tend to be high after the insurance company has paid its portion of the bill, may also reap the benefits of having a financial counselor.

For example, if a patient is scheduled for a major surgery, the financial counselor may call the patient’s third-party payer to determine the patient’s responsibility after the insurance has paid its portion of the service.

If the patient is responsible for 30% of the allowable, he or she should be aware of the amount that will be owed after the insurance company has paid its share. Once the insurance company sends the payment with the EOB, the financial counselor will want to set up a payment plan with the patient.

This article was adapted from one that originally ran in The Doctor's Office, a HealthLeaders Media publication.


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